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Arbitrator Rules In Favor Of Teamsters In UNFI Relocation Case

Teamsters at United Natural Foods, Inc (UNFI) SuperValu Warehouse in Tacoma Will Retain Wages and Working Conditions at Centralia Location

TUKWILA, Wash., Oct. 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- An arbitrator ruled 300 Teamsters at UNFI's Tacoma warehouse in Tacoma shall be allowed to transfer to Centralia under the terms and conditions of their current contract. The arbitrator also awarded transfer rights and back pay to workers facing layoffs, scheduled begin Saturday.

International Brotherhood Of Teamsters. (PRNewsFoto/International Brotherhood of Teamsters)

"I'm prouder to be a Teamster now than I've ever been in 30 years," said Greg Wiest, a shop steward and forklift driver at the facility. "This is not only big for us, but it's big for the entire labor movement. The talk in the warehouse since the decision is that a lot of us will be going down to Centralia. We're pretty excited – morale's way up today. Now we know that we have a job."

In Feb., UNFI announced that it would shut down the Tacoma warehouse and move operations to a new facility non-union facility in Centralia. The union filed a grievance after UNFI refused to honor clear contract language that laid out the terms and conditions of the move. The contract states: "…all employees working under the terms of this agreement at the old facility shall be afforded the opportunity to work at the new facility under the same terms and conditions and without any loss of seniority or other contractual rights or benefits."

"This is an extraordinary victory not just for Teamsters at UNFI but for working people across this country," said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters 117. "The Arbitrator upheld strong language in our contract that protects the rights of our members. Now hundreds of working people will have the opportunity to retain good, family-wage jobs with the same health and welfare protections and retirement security that our Tacoma contract provides. We hope UNFI will do the right thing and move swiftly to honor the arbitrator's decision."

"Teamsters will continue to hold UNFI's feet to the fire and make sure our members interests are protected across the country as it restructures UNFI and SUPERVALU operations," said Steve Vairma, Teamsters Warehouse Division Director. "Unfortunately UNFI top management decided to waste precious time and money fighting its workers when the situation could have been handled very differently by UNFI's CEO Steven Spinner."

Paul Zilly 206-794-6673


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SOURCE Teamsters Local Union 117